Home Is Where The Heart Is – A Journey To Sathya Sai Baba

Nearest & Dearest

Nearest & Dearest

Home Is Where The Heart Is – A Journey To Sathya Sai Baba

Indian philosophers talk of the Monkey way and the Way of the Cat in spiritual progress. In the case of the former, the young monkey holds on to the mother and is carried by her from tree to tree and if it loosens its grip, the kid may fall down; but in the case of the latter, the mother cat takes the young one by its teeth and carries it to wherever it is supposed to be taken. In the case of Jag dish Prasad who has joined our editorial team, the Lord seems to have used the latter method and transformed his heart with his mind becoming aware of it only much later!

Was it Tweedledee or was it Tweedledum who told Alice, “Begin at the Beginning”? When did it all begin? Listening to a religious lecture in the late 50s in the company of my mother? Or was it during the month’s stay at Whitefield in the late 80s when I helped out cleaning the grounds at Brindavanam? Sitting for Darshan, mornings and evenings, gazing at Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and crying for no reason at all and then pretending dirt had got into my eyes; then being dragged for Nagar Sankirtan, attending the Thursday bhajans and the all night bhajan during Shivaratri. Don’t ask me why I let myself be Shanghied? I don’t know. I think I did it to please my wife. She had been named by Baba when her mother placed her as a baby in Baba’s arms. My in-laws are staunch devotees of Baba and it goes back to the late 50s. I, of course, was under the impression I was not. I fought back like only a mean, “ornery” journalist would. But the seed had been sown by Baba without my being aware of it. I was, as it were, being chased by the hounds of heaven there was no escape and I did not know it. I thought I had escaped Baba’s divine clutches, when I made myself back to the muck-raking world of hard political journalism, covering communal riots, and in between bouts of ‘stories’, listening to bhajans, chorals, blues and Bach.

Ramana Maharishi

Ramana Maharishi

Then one day something snapped. My wife and I decided to take a holiday and see South India. The first stop was Tiruvanamalai and the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi. We went as tourists and we stayed for a week in the ashram’s guest house. And spent our days going on giripradakshina ( going around the sacred hill of Arunachala), sitting for the daily recitation of Tamil scriptures and works of Ramana and a host of other things. The week ended and we were back in Bangalore, when my wife expressed a wish to go to Shirdi. I refused, put my foot down and all that. But the end of the month saw us at the Kopergaon railway station flagging an autorickshaw to Shirdi!

You see the pattern here. I was as obstinate as a mule and here I was standing in line for the kakad (morning) arathi at the shrine of Shirdi Sai Baba and what is more, trying to sing along!

Shirdi Sai Baba

Shirdi Sai Baba

I put it down to some sort of mental aberration. But Swami obviously had other ideas. A week in Shirdi and I had still not figured it out.

Back in Bangalore I joined another national weekly magazine. Some evenings were spent at the Ramana Maharishi Meditation Hall in the city (Believe me, I was just resting my feet ! ?) One evening I was going through some old battered volumes of Summer Showers in Brindavan, and that only because I had no P D James or Kate Millet by my side. If you don’t believe me, that is your problem. The very next morning we decided to go to Tiruvanamalai. This one’s for Ripley’s Believe it or Not. I quit my job. My wife quit hers. Baba, the Compassionate, works his miracles in ways that are unfathomable.

We planned to stay in the ashram for a week. A few days later I was looking for a house to stay. And we stayed for nearly two years. Days were spent in attending the morning prayers at 6 am, going up the hill to Skandashram and on giripradakshina on every alternate day. Somewhere along the way, we gave away our TV, most of the books and most of the furniture and if I may add most of our clothes. It’s funny really that when you gave away most of the things that you feel you cannot do without, you find that you really can do without them. You don’t miss. Reading becomes limited to spiritual books like the Gita, the Dakshinamurti Stotra, Atmabodha Deepika and even older and equally tattered copies of Sanathana Sarathi as well as various volumes of Summer Showers. The web was drawing tighter near and we were blissfully unaware of it.

At the end of two years we decided to return to ‘civilisation’ and I still foolishly thought I would get back to mainstream journalism. But it was not to be. I found myself editing books on Bhagawan, writing articles on people who have experienced His Grace and being slowly but surely enmeshed and enveloped in his Divine love.

Today there are, a few rudiments of what can be passed of as furniture at home. I prefer to sit on the floor, its more comfortable. Hardly any books except spiritual ones, no framed Kangra Valley miniatures or Sabavala lithos on the walls except several photographs of Bhagawan, Ramana Maharishi, Shirdi Sai and Jesus Christ.

I have not seen any manifestations. I have not seen any miracles. Except one. The miracle that Bhagawan worked in my life, changing it forever. And would I ever go back to old life? To be honest, no. I have discovered my Saviour. In His Compassionate grace he took me first to Ramana Maharishi, then to Shirdi Sai and finally gathered me back in his protective arms.

To that corner of His Heart. As somebody once said, Home is where the Heart is.

— Jagadish Prasad